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Google and Facebook Join DataPortability.org 60 60

technirvana sends us to ReadWriteWeb for the scoop on the announcement this morning that representatives from Google and Facebook are joining the DataPortability Workgroup. Quoting: "The group is working on a variety of projects to foster an era in which users can take their data from the websites they use to reuse elsewhere... Good bye customer lock-in, hello to new privacy challenges. If things go right, today could be a very important day in the history of the internet. The non-participation of Google and Facebook, two companies that hold more user data and do more with it than almost any other consumer service on the market, was the biggest stumbling block to the viability of the project. These are two of the most important companies in recent history — what's being decided now is whether they will be walled-garden, data-horders or truly open platforms tied into a larger ecosystem of innovation with respect for user rights and sensible policies about data."
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Google and Facebook Join DataPortability.org

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @06:03PM (#21961084) Homepage
    I would like a system where the servers and services using the system doesn't actually have access to YOUR information, but rather has access to links to your information. That information would, in turn, be controlled by the owner of that information. Such a system would be truly opt-in creating a marketing system that people could truly opt-out of. It would also be immeasurably more valuable to marketers as the information would have a higher quality of demographic selection along with more guaranteed delivery of content.

    If such a system were to catch on, we'd be a lot closer to the end of spam and similar marketing practices. I can't imagine we'd be rid of it entirely, but wouldn't it be nice?
  • by snotclot (836055) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @06:22PM (#21961446)
    > I think we'll see more and more that people are going to be known by their avatars rather than their actual name as data becomes universal like this.

    What's funny is that I go out of my way to make sure my avatar is unknown, in the sense that there is no tie with my real name in any way, on any website/forum/whatever. If you google my avatar, all you find is which websites I used that avatar, and what I posted using that avatar, but nothing else about me. In fact, I even switch avatars; one avatar for different websites.

    The threat I see from this is the potential that you cannot avoid having your real name linked to your avatar's... or you would have to go out of your way to maintain explicitly seperate online persona's: one for your actual name, and one for every avatar you choose!

  • by nguy (1207026) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @06:22PM (#21961448)
    Most of the data people want to move around has obvious formats, and where there aren't obvious formats, the first people to do something reasonable get to set the standard. What are some of the things Google and Facebook can do right now?

    There are commonly used formats for contact info, addresses, appointments, todo lists, notes, and bookmarks. For images, Google could offer downloading of a zip of an album or all albums. For documents and document backup, Google could offer downloading of a zip of a folder or the entire collection. Mail can be backed up via IMAP pretty well, but a zipped mbox file might also be nice. For information in search results and other web pages, Google could use microformats.

    So, talk if you like, but these companies can do a lot better than they are doing right now without waiting for some grand standard or consensus.
  • by RobBebop (947356) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @06:30PM (#21961584) Homepage Journal

    Does Amazon participate in this? They hold a ton of personal data whenever I make a purchase from them. Hell, whenever I sign into their site they keep track of all the items I have ever viewed.

    It seems that there are so many ways for a website to get *my* data.

    (a) personal data supplied (forms on their site that I fill in),
    (b) friend data supplied (form on their site that my friend fills in),
    (c) browsing data semi-supplied (pages on their site that I look at),
    (d) 3rd party supplied data, (forms on other sites that I filled in)

    If all of these data sources cannot be controlled by the end user (what gets aggregated where)... then I am going to have to find myself another Internet.

    And yes, I don't like that Facebook gets personal data from 3rd Party Sites unless I specifically say they can (i.e. "Go Search Gmail for New Contacts to Add"). LinkedIn (I believe) does this search without asking you.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @06:39PM (#21961724) Homepage
    Perhaps it seems that way, but consider if this were viewed as the next evolution of email systems where the sender were more verifiable. I do believe that there can't be a security or privacy system that can't be broken or compromised, but if delivery of messages were contingent on the recipient's authorization rather like some instant messaging systems are today, the worst you might see is a constant flow of authorization requests which would be as annoying as direct spam, but could be presented to the user in some digest form on a periodic basis for their review rather than in the form of millions of little requests. Then the recipient could allow the sender's messages through based on their opt-in selection which could be revoked one the user's request.

    I would think of such a system as part of EMail-2.0 standards whatever they end up being, but it wouldn't be proprietary and would be available for every client and server to implement... and it wouldn't be patent encumbered... ah what a lovely dream.

    But such a dream would be valuable to legitimate users and legitimate marketers. One of the problems with internet marketing is the vagueness of demographic targeting systems. At least with radio and TV advertising, the demographic can be fairly well defined. With the internet, it's filled with problems and fraudulent activity. But a system that provided more accuracy for the marketer as well as a way for the end user to cut off the senders before it hits their in boxes? What a great system that could be. That would only leave the illegitimate marketers out in the cold... continuing their hacking... writing code that would make the users' computers opt-in to things they don't want.

    I can't imagine I am the only one who has thought of such systems... I'm not a particularly smart or clever person, so if I thought of it and it's a good idea, then the chances are that someone else already thought of it and implemented it 10 years ago... and if I thought of it and it's a bad idea... well, that's just par for the course.
  • by cmacb (547347) on Tuesday January 08, 2008 @08:43PM (#21963224) Homepage Journal

    Notice how many people put albums of photos on Facebook, compared to Myspace - it's a good indicator of whether they will stay with the service.

    Are you confusing Facebook with Flickr or Picasa? Facebook runs a Java program that spends ten minutes converting my beautiful hi-res photos to postage stamps. The results are pathetic! 50meg in 2meg out.

    If you pay attention you will notice that Facebook doesn't do any heavy lifting on their servers. They leave that to the ap writers, and even so, the service was grinding to a halt in December. They'll have to reinvent their infrastructure to scale and by then the world will be bored with their walled garden.

    I think Facebook joining this group is too little too late. Let's see them actually make some content exportable (not that I want my postage stamp pictures back or anything).

    On the other hand, nothing is new about Google joining this group. Everything is Google is exportable right now. they are already walking the walk, while Facebook is just talking the talk (and running in the other direction).

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